Report: 16 dolphin deaths linked to red tide off Florida

Fishermen prepare to dock their boat at the Hamilton Stone Crab fishery in Everglades City, Fla., Dec. 11, 2018. Stone crabs, one of Florida’s unrivaled delicacies, are becoming increasingly tough to catch in the state’s southern waters, the apparent victims of a prolonged toxic algae bloom known as red tide.

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Federal scientists have linked over a dozen dolphin deaths off Florida to a toxic algae bloom that has persisted in the Gulf of Mexico for over a year.

Erin Fougeres says researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been “fairly overwhelmed” by the number of necropsies needed.

The News-Press reports roughly 130 dolphin deaths have been counted in southwest Florida, but only 16 definitive necropsy results. Fougeres said all 16 pointed to red tide poisoning as the cause of death.

She says the marine mammals can inhale toxins from the algae bloom or consume contaminated creatures. Red tide also can kill off large numbers of fish, leaving the dolphins weak or starving.

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Fougeres said a red tide in 2005 and 2006 killed approximately 190 bottlenose dolphins.